Northam directs Va. Dept. of Health to release COVID-19 data on specific nursing homes, announces $246M in CARES Act funding


RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that $246 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will go to Virginia’s long-term care facilities, which have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday also brought another major announcement from Northam: the Virginia Department of Health will start releasing COVID-19 data for individual long-term care facilities, which include both nursing homes and assisted living facilities, throughout the state.

Northam and state officials, despite the severity of the situation in these facilities, had not budged on releasing this individualized data. Virginia code on patient and facility privacy was given as the reason why.

The federal government had been releasing the data for individual facilities for about two weeks now, but it’s been inconsistent at best.

It comes the same day the Virginia Department of Health reported 55 new long-term care COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state’s total of long-term care deaths to 1,000. That’s 62% of Virginia’s 1,602 overall COVID-19 deaths.

“The lockdowns of long-term care facilities to protect residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19 have been hard on residents and their families,” said Governor Northam in a press release. “These actions will help support long-term care facilities as they ease those restrictions, while keeping their residents safe and ensuring that the public gets accurate information on the spread of this virus in these facilities.”

Related: Northam says phase 3 will allow gatherings up to 250 people, open pools at 75% occupancy, increase gym capacity to 75%

The funding will help nursing homes and assisted living facilities with staffing shortages, increasing infection control measures and personal protective equipment (PPE) and comply with new testing requirements, which require baseline testing all of Virginia’s long-term care facilities and ongoing testing when facilities enter the first phase of their reopening process. The state’s guidelines for reopening are here.

Most of the funding will go to nursing facilities, which receive Medicaid payments. Northam and the General Assembly agreed in April to increase Medicaid reimbursement for nursing homes $20 per resident per day.

VDH has been working with the Virginia National Guard to conduct “baseline” testing, AKA point prevalence surveys, which means testing all residents and staff in the same time period. The goal is to complete baseline survey for all nursing homes by July 15.

To read more about the funding, click here.

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